• Graduation Success: Identifying and Overcoming Challenging Demographic Factors to Reduce High School Dropouts

      Schultz, Robert W.
      The importance of students completing high school with a diploma is the focus of increasing social, economic, and political attention across the United States. Posing a strong challenge to efforts to increase graduation rates are several key demographic factors. This study examines, through a case study, an Indiana high school that overcame the challenge of negative demographic factors to achieve a graduation rate above the state average for four consecutive years (2006-2009). Researching databases maintained by the Indiana Department of Education revealed specific demographic factors that had a strong correlation to graduation rates in Indiana. The four demographic factors with the strongest negative correlation to graduation rates were percent of students on free lunch, percent of students from single parent families, percent of children in district with at risk mothers, and percent of families in district below the poverty level. The high school examined, through the case study in this project, exhibited student numbers at or above the state average in each of those four negative demographic factors and also achieved a graduation rate at or above the state average for the four consecutive years studied. To overcome the challenges of those negative factors, the high school maintains a child-centered focus that seeks to address both affective and academic needs of students. Seizing every opportunity every day to help every child is not only a stated goal, but a pervasive attitude. Two alternative schools, a vocational career center, online classes for credit recovery, smaller classes targeted for at-risk freshmen, after school tutoring programs, and involvement of community resources are some of the programs employed by the school to reduce dropouts. Staff members of the school work cohesively in support of both students and each other. The demonstrated successes of this high school provide models for other high schools to emulate.
    • The Indiana Public School Dropout Dilemma Differences in Superintendents' Perceptions

      Adams, David Albert
      This quantitative study examined Indiana public school superintendents‘ perspectives of efficacy toward the student dropout dilemma. A survey was administered to a random sample of Indiana superintendents, and an analysis was made to investigate whether superintendents in Indiana believe that there is an internal or external locus of control (efficacy) concerning the dropout issue. Further examination was made to determine if superintendent opinions towards efficacy differ by school geographic location (rural, suburban, town, metropolitan), socioeconomic status of the community (percent of students on free and reduced lunch), or superintendents‘ age. The study also compared superintendent opinions concerning the dropout issue with those of teachers and principals as reported in Bridgeland, Dilulio, and Balfanz (2009) to see if their opinions correspond. Analysis of variance was computed for the variables of interest to identify significant difference between groups. An ANOVA was run on each research question. A factorial ANOVA was then run to determine whether significant main or interaction effects exist between the independent variables. The statistical analysis showed moderate efficacy among Indiana superintendent concerning student dropouts. The ANOVA and Factorial ANOVA showed insufficient evidence to conclude that significant differences exist between different groups of superintendents based on geographic location, free and reduced lunch populations, or age of the superintendent. The examination of superintendent responses to survey questions showed similar responses to those of teachers and principals on the national study. A general discussion is presented on the conclusions of the research with recommendations made for reducing the dropout rate and further research on the topic.